A Danish study conducted at the Copenhagen Cancer Research Center has found that women with past depression tend to have worse outcomes of breast cancer.

The study analyzed data obtained from 45.000 participants in Denmark. It showed women with past mental health issues can have worse results with cancer treatment. 13 percent of patients previously treated with antidepressants died within five years of their cancer diagnosis compared with 11 percent of women who had never taken these kinds of medication previously.

Depressed woman
“230,815 women and 2,109 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013,” said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Image credit: http://ottmag.com

“We did not find that women with depression were not diagnosed at later stages” said the lead study author, Dr. Niss Palm Suppli of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center, at Copenhagen.

Depression might increase the risk of developing breast cancer

It’s very common for cancer patients to suffer from depression as a consequence of the disease and the aggressive treatments. The investigation acknowledged instead the patients who had suffered from depression before the diagnosis, as the study team wrote in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

This study does not prove that depression is a factor that influences breast cancer outcomes. It does speculate that past depression can be related to cancer outcomes because it can cause negligence in the patient’s treatment routine. Some women who suffer from depression can miss treatment and be inconsistent in taking medicines, thus affecting their results negatively.

The study analyzed data obtained from 1998 to 2011 and found that 13 percent or 6068 women had been treated with antidepressants and 2 percent had been hospitalized because of severe depression. These women were 14 percent more likely to receive cancer care that does not comply with recommended treatment guidelines and 11 percent were more likely to die of breast cancer. Also, 21 percent of them were more likely to die of any cause.

The study has some loopholes regarding the differentiation of patients with or without depression. Investigators did not take into account women with untreated or undiagnosed depression and women with depression that was not treated with medication but with psychological therapy. To understand the full link between a history of depression and poor outcomes in breast cancer patients, it is important that these factors are taken into consideration.

Dr. Harold Burstein, a researcher at Harvard Medical School in Boston and a breast cancer expert for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, who was not part of the study, saiD “the concern is that depression might compromise standard care.”

Source: Business Insider